Oakland CC Interview: Michael Robinson


Michael Robinson from Oakland Community College discusses challenges and solutions in community colleges, emphasizing the importance of academic support services and faculty engagement. He highlights targeted interventions for first-time students and the complexities of implementing and tracking new initiatives to enhance student success and educational outcomes.
Featured in this interview:
Michael Robinson

(00:00) Introduction and Background

Michael Robinson, a faculty member at Oakland Community College (OCC), provides valuable insights into the role of community colleges in promoting student success. He highlights the diverse range of programs offered by OCC, which cater to students seeking to pursue four-year degrees or enter the workforce directly. Robinson emphasizes the importance of community colleges in creating economic mobility within their communities, especially in light of the current challenges posed by student loan debt and inflation.

(05:47) Challenges and Value Proposition of Community Colleges

Despite the significant value proposition of community colleges, they face challenges in ensuring student success and completion rates. Robinson identifies factors such as students' lack of awareness about available resources, the prevalence of part-time enrollment, and the difficulty in fostering strong connections with the college community. He highlights the need for comprehensive support services and personalized guidance to help students navigate their educational journey effectively.

(12:56) Improving Student Success through Support Services

To address the challenges faced by community college students, Robinson advocates for the integration of academic support services into the student experience. He suggests creating a first-year experience that includes interactions with various support services, milestone events, and experiential learning opportunities. By providing students with a well-rounded and engaging educational experience, community colleges can improve student success rates and foster a stronger sense of belonging.

(21:00) Engaging Faculty and Building Academic Culture

Faculty play a crucial role in promoting academic support and creating a positive learning environment. Robinson emphasizes the importance of engaging faculty members in supporting student success initiatives. This can be achieved through faculty training, collaboration with academic support staff, and the integration of support services into course curricula. By building a strong academic culture and fostering meaningful connections with students, community colleges can create a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

(47:15) Targeted Support for First-Time College Students

First-time college students (FTIAC) often face unique challenges and require targeted support to succeed. Robinson highlights the strategies employed by OCC to support this specific student population, including personalized interventions and comparative analysis of FTIAC and non-FTIAC student performance. By understanding the distinct needs of first-time college students and implementing tailored support mechanisms, community colleges can improve retention and success rates among this vulnerable group.

(50:36) Implementing and Tracking Educational Initiatives

Implementing new initiatives and tracking student success metrics in higher education can be complex and challenging. Robinson acknowledges the difficulties in adopting evidence-based practices due to bureaucratic obstacles and coordination issues. He also highlights the limitations of pilot programs, as the results may not always be representative of the larger student population. Furthermore, attributing success to specific interventions can be challenging due to the multitude of factors influencing student outcomes.


The interview with Michael Robinson provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities for promoting student success in community colleges. By offering diverse programs, integrating comprehensive support services, engaging faculty, and providing targeted support for first-time college students, institutions like OCC can create a more inclusive and supportive educational environment. While implementing change and tracking success metrics remain complex, the strategies and perspectives shared by Robinson offer a roadmap for community colleges striving to enhance student outcomes and promote educational equity.

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